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Where to from here? - Reg. Dev. Closing speech

Hon Jim Anderton

Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Economic Development

Minister for Industry and Regional Development

29 November 2001 Speech Notes

Where to from here? - Closing speech

New Zealand’s Regional Development Conference - A springboard for growth

New Zealand’s largest ever regional development conference

2.30 pm

29 November 2001

Rotorua Convention Centre

Before we start, please turn to page 33 in your booklets where it says “ideas to follow up on”.

Now write down, if you haven’t already two ideas you will take back from this conference that you can follow up to build your region.

I started this conference with the challenge that we have the opportunity to take economic and regional development to the forefront of New Zealand’s economic agenda.

We have made a positive start.

Most of us involved in the conference have missed the items on television running from breakfast to late edition and across the major radio networks.

You as ambassadors of regional development can now return to your regions and provide more comment in your local newspapers and other media.

If nothing else the positive media coverage we have generated has given regional development and your regional successes a much higher profile.

We have seen that in the media coverage of this conference.

Although this coverage shows that it is New Zealanders who will make things happen for New Zealand.

The publicly-owned New Zealand media have been here.

Radio New Zealand and TVNZ are here because they recognise their responsibility to tell New Zealanders about what is really happening in New Zealand.

But the resurgence of regional New Zealand has been ignored by overseas-owned urban media.

They don’t seem to be interested in telling the story of New Zealand’s success, unless it is happening in downtown Auckland.

Canadian-owned TV3 haven’t been here.

The Irish-owned New Zealand Herald hasn’t been here until a photographer arrived today.

Rupert Murdoch’s INL hasn’t been here.

The same people used to tell us that the decline of regional New Zealand was inevitable.

They were wrong, but they won’t come out into the regions and see for themselves.

The New Zealand-owned news media have been here to tell the story of how New Zealanders are taking responsibility for our own solutions.

I would like this conference to adopt by acclamation a resolution calling on the overseas-owned big-city news media to leave their desks in the concrete jungle, and come and see the positive developments in regional New Zealand.

We call on them to come and see the successes tell the stories of the real New Zealand.

Although media publicity is important I think all of us realise here that we are not so much interested in column inches as in results.

Regional development will have a much higher profile if we revolutionise the communities in which we live.

If our children have opportunities, and there is full employment, then New Zealand will be a different country than the one we have lived through over the last 20 years.

The video we have just seen shows us in at least one region and industry the work that has to be done, and the benefits that work will produce.

Successful booming regions require hard work and commitment. There will be setbacks, changes of approach and at times there may even be the appearance of not moving forward.

If there is one thing I have learnt in politics it is that persistence is essential. You have to stick to you guns.

An old saying says, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

We are already on the road, we need to make sure we stay on it.

Before I cover what I see as the achievements of this conference and the next steps we need to take, I want to cover a few of the many themes and threads that have emerged.

Some of the themes seem at first to be contradictory. For example we need to have strong leaders, but everyone must work together so that we all own the strategy.

We need to encourage innovative entrepreneurs¡K but we need to have community driven processes.

We need to start with a strong vision, ¡K but we need to be flexible to take in all points of view and adapt where we are going.

Regions need to do it themselves but Government must be involved and have a partnership role.

One of the observations that has emerged is that each region is both different and unique and needs to take its own approach.

I am a politician who clearly believes in delivering results. I believe strongly in regional development. I believe in ideas that work.

Try something new. If it works don’t do more. If it doesn’t work, change it.

As Peter Kenyon has said, in each region, at different times, you need to utilise different tools from a toolkit of approaches.

Allow people to progress their own dreams but have an overall idea of where you are going.

Ali Boswijk explained that the Nelson Arts Marketing strategy markets the region but allows artists to follow their own chosen direction. Although Arts Marketing started the process local artists now feel they own it. You have to admire anyone who can get a region of artists to all agree to anything. I’ll be inviting Ali to the Alliance Council meeting in December.

The Government may need to be heavily involved for a time and then withdraw and let the region own and direct itself.

The Chinese have an old saying which says “the best leaders are not known and the people say we did it ourselves’.

Clearly ancient Chinese rulers didn’t have to get elected.

However Government can be a catalyst.

What role central Government has in regional development is an interesting issue.

For over 25 years Government has not been involved and regions have been left to their own devices. Now we are involved and regions are growing one or two people are saying it’s really mostly due to the low dollar and better farm prices.

I have heard several projects described as community driven but at the same time at other workshops as Government initiated. I think both descriptions are correct - they are certainly not mutually exclusive.

I know your work has been critical to the changes that are taking place.

We’ll never know the balance of what caused what to happen.

I see Government as the regional development coach.

Where we need to help the team get together and when the team is together we can encourage and support it.

If the team needs some particular skills we might help provide those.

If the team is in dispute we might help mediate.

We can find out and share what other teams are doing.

If the rules aren’t working we might try and change them.

If the team is doing brilliantly and is self supporting then we might just step back and watch for a while, our involvement being cheering from the sideline.

The key point is that central Government should help you achieve what you want, which is strong, self directed communities and economies. Don’t vote for anything less.

I have enjoyed the rich contributions that you have all shared in the last two days.

I liked the idea from Gordon McVie that we are all have parts of a regional development jigsaw.

Ernesto Sirolli was truly inspiring on the need for passion and working together to make entrepreneurship flourish.

I was also impressed with Mike Tamaki talking about the regions all being chapters in the book which is New Zealand.

Amoheare Houkamau described the success Ngati Porou and its partnership work as part of the Tairawhiti Development Taskforce.

I was interested in Colin James talking about the many definitions of regional development.

From what I have heard I would like to suggest one definition.

Regional development is the creation of strong, locally-directed and sustainable regions which generate jobs and opportunities and meet the economic, social and environmental needs of New Zealanders.

Maybe we don’t need a definition. After all, definitions will differ depending on your approach.

What we do need to be clear about though, is what we have achieved at this event.

We have all met people and created new links and relationships which can benefit our regions.

You have all recorded at least two good ideas that you can implement on your return to your communities.

That means we now have 1,200 action points. If even a tenth of them bear fruit this will be a significant contribution to our local and regional communities economy.

We have seen some excellent displays and discussed relevant case studies in workshops.

If you haven’t been inspired or had your passion renewed by something you have heard here then you need a holiday or a new job.

You have all had an opportunity to test and refine your views with your colleagues.

You have also been able to share your views with other regions, the Ministry of Economic Development, Industry New Zealand, government agencies and Government Ministers. I can tell you we have made comprehensive notes and have listened to what you have said.

I came here wanting to seek views on ways to improve the Regional Partnerships Programme in the next budget.

I already indicated that I will look at:

- providing greater encouragement and facilitation for the development of clusters;

- better coordination for the range of government business assistance measures in the regions, particularly to high growth companies; and

- promoting a closer relationship between our industry strategies and regional strategies.

From what I have heard here these seem to be heading in the right direction.

In addition one idea that has been suggested is seed funding to have New Zealanders take ideas and programmes around other regions.

This could allow regions to get advice and support from local heroes. You are the experts and we need to continue the sharing of ideas we have started here.

I support this idea and will ask the Ministry of Economic Development to investigate how this might be done.

When I opened this conference I noted that the last conference that addressed regional development was in 1969.

We cannot wait that long again. I don’t think I’ll be much use to you it’s in 2033! I will propose that forward budgets schedule another one some time in the next two years. Rather than “a springboard for growth’ I think the theme for that one should be “how to manage regional growth that is larger than you could ever have imagined.’ Well that’s a working title.

Of course we’ll need a venue that can accommodate over 1,000 delegates so I’ll be looking for bids from regions who have built those facilities.

Is this a bit of a dream? Perhaps.

I want to finish with a quote from Nelson Mandela “our biggest fear is not that we are weak but that we are powerful beyond our wildest dreams.”

Thank you on behalf of New Zealand and New Zealanders.

Let’s go out and build our nation and make it the best small country in the world.


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